The smell of fresh fruit, dried leaves and rotting pumpkins has passed. The trees have stiffened and dropped their leaves, which lay in constantly soggy clumps in the yard. The breeze just hovers and the chill clings to glass window. Colored lights now decorate the shinny city and wink as cheerful smiles pass on my quiet neighborhood streets.
Meanwhile this evening, just miles away, silence was the last thing that fell upon the mall at Clackamas Town Center. Repeated gunshots, sharp screams, the slamming of store front gates vibrated through the food court. And the constant whisper of Christmas hymns shared their message of peace, echoing through the decorated mall. Trembling souls watched the arms of clocks heave heavy minutes as they hid in offices and back storage closets of various stores as the shooter rampaged through the second level.
Not as many details have been released as there have been personal stories of friends, patrons, managers, families getting photos taken with Santa and consumers purchasing holiday gifts as Hanukkah is upon us and Christmas is around the corner. My roommates and I have hung an obnoxious poster of Santa Claus in our front picture window and "peace, love & joy" stockings on the living room wall above a jar of candy canes on the living room table. The red, green and white wrapping paper that we used to decorate our Yankee Candles really isn't much but sets the tune of the season. I can't imagine flicking on the lights of our mini Christmas tree, locking up our comfy and cozy little home, going to the mall and never returning. The two unsuspecting people who tragically passed away tonight will now be angels watching over us this season.
You can not prepare, you can not expect and I know this has happened repeatedly around the world but I couldn't help but feel sick to my stomach while watching the news at the gym. Knowing that one of my friends had locked herself in the managers office at her store was gut wrenching. I couldn't help but feel the fear of the family who's baby daughter was on Santa's lap during the time of the ringing riffle. Or the girl who's sister was one of the seven injured, now at OHSU (Portland's major hospital) and I couldn't imagine how all their families and friends felt when they found out.
Everyday, I make an effort to vocally share my gratitude of the beauty around me, my own friends & family, the challenges & goals in my life and the service I am able to provide for others. Whether or not you believe in gun control, people killing people or guns killing people, or unearthly natural selection, take the time to realize what you do have in your current lives because it could be gone in a wave of a hand. It is too bad that it takes a publicized disaster for some people to feel the emotion that could be shared regularly.
Maybe I am just over-emotional and ranting but please, just take care our yourselves and each other, this holiday and every day. Bless us all, for blessings come in a thousand different kinds of packages.
Stay warm, we are all where we belong.